Jake Gyllenhaal gives not one but two impressive if quiet performances in this evocative film that manages to feel simultaneously high concept and yet also strangely small – at about 90 minutes, the last thing Enemy is is baggy. With its subject matter of doppelgängers and mysterious keys, there is an unmissable Mulholland Driveconnection which, much like its predecessor, provides an easy enough interpretation for those who don’t much like to think and will only watch it once, with enough questions left unanswered for those who will want to return a few times more. I imagine when I watch it a third time, this will up from a 3.5 to a 4 star rating as I uncover more of this pleasingly unpretentious example of 21st century surreal cinema.
If you loved Bad Lieutenant, Trainspotting, The Libertine and Training Day, you’ll be… really kinda bored by Filth.
For a film that covers some of the most covered territory there is for a film cover, Filthcomes across as desperately pleased with itself, which – rather than the, frankly run of the mill “grittiness” – is the thing that actually makes this film so hard to like. The ending is decent but in its attempt to mix grungy bleak humour with pathos as is Irvine Welsh’s wont, Filth ends up somewhat undermining both. Shirley Henderson and Eddie Marsan are delightful to watch as ever and it’s nice to see Jim Broadbent in full Terry Gilliam mode but again: there’s nothing new going on here. James McAvoy plays the lead Bruce Robertson admirably, but he’s no Harvey Keitel; he’s not really Nicolas Cage.
The strongest element of Filth, however, is without a doubt Bruce’s ladder-climbing duplicity, saving the film by dragging it out of “British Bad Lieutenant” territory and into “Edinburgh House of Cards.” Even so, Bruce’s constant cheeky winks towards the permeable fourth wall soon get grating and, much like the film itself, lose all impressiveness quite rapidly. Fairly fun, but has little-to-no replay value in comparison to the list of far superior predecessors upon which it is so obviously based.